When winter is approaching and clocks go back an hour as British Summer Time officially ends, it is a good time for farmers to review their security.
Farms in the autumn and winter months are dark and secluded places and can prove an inviting target for thieves who will be looking to steal farm vehicles, fuel, tools and equipment.
Statistically, October and November are the two months of the year when police receive more reports of burglary than at any other time.
With their isolated countryside locations, farmhouses, outbuildings, barns, garages and sheds are all prey for would-be rural thieves, who use modern technology including drones, Google Earth and sat navs to pinpoint their entry and escape routes.
But there are a variety of measures you can take to protect your property, land and livestock and discourage potential thieves.
Fuel thieves often target farms under the cover of darkness when they are able to drain tanks within minutes if they are not properly protected.
Thieves use anything from basic plastic tubes to pumping apparatus to siphon off hundreds of litres of red diesel from tanks and farm machinery, causing huge financial loss and inconvenience for farmers.
To prevent theft, fit fuel bowsers with wheel clamps or hitch locks. Tanks should be housed in a secure location – within a shed (in line with regulations) or in a compound, such as a locked metal cage.
Consider fitting a remote fuel monitoring gauge and alarm system. Install movement sensors, CCTV and lighting around the tank.
Store machinery inside sheds using layers of security and ensure tractors are locked up at night. If machines must be kept outside, park with fuel caps against a fence or wall.
Lighting and CCTV cameras
Isolated farm buildings down dark lanes are easy for thieves to approach and hide in the darkness. Make sure you light up areas in and around your home and buildings.
Motion-sensor security lighting and CCTV cameras are a good crime prevention and detection tool. Thieves don’t want to be seen.
Install lighting and CCTV in access locations, vulnerable areas and around the perimeter of farm buildings, yards and houses. Consider audible and monitored intruder alarm systems.
With improving technology in this area and a reduction in the cost of CCTV systems, they can be bought for fairly modest sums. Many suppliers offer subscription services with text alert systems linked to mobile phones, tablets or computers, allowing you to monitor the farm 24/7 from anywhere in the world.
Farmers are embracing new technology involving infrared beams that set off voice warning systems and relay live footage to mobile phones.